Steve Martland, 1954-2013

After much persuasion from the composer Joe Duddell because, ‘I don’t do that kind of thing anymore’, Steve was kind enough to take me under his wing and for the last year and a half or so had become something of a mentor. The intention was for me to have composition lessons with Steve but we never really got down to looking at notes on a page; we were distracted by seemingly everything else in the world. Although it will always sadden me that my hero never got to tell me what he thought of the music he had ultimately inspired – although, maybe not such a bad thing as he would, without doubt, have been brutally honest – it stands as a testament to him as a person that he did not see me, the young student, as a task and something to work on, then cast out into the world. He saw me as a fellow human being, one with all the questions, anxieties, and naivety of a person of my age, someone who he could help along the way, and someone to whom he could be a much-needed friend.

And so it is only now that I step back and consider what I learned from this kind man and, of course, realise that it is far more than would have resulted from a discussion of, for example, whether I write my piece with constantly changing time signatures or simply write in 4/4. It was the big things, like whether the piece need even exist in a world with such inhumanity. Questions that most composers prefer to ignore knowing that if they acknowledged them, they would have to go about things very differently. But Steve was correct in maintaining that the artist’s duty is not to shy away from these things but confront them. This sincere passion and devotion to what he felt was right and good in the world along with his ceaseless stand against what is wrong, regardless of the situation he found himself in and whether it put his own composing life at a disadvantage, makes Steve Martland the blueprint of the artist in the 21st century.

If you're not so familiar with Steve's work you should check out this, this, and this, for starters.